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Monthly Archives: June 2012

The old Dominion Bank Building–now a condo-hotel at One King St. West

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As a teenager, I was employed by the Dominion Bank for two summers. It was in the days prior to its merger in 1955 with the Bank of Toronto, when it became the Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD Bank). I worked at the Dominion Bank at Bloor St. and Dovercourt Road, and another summer at the branch at Bloor and Bathurst Streets. Both these branches are no longer in operation. I delivered bank drafts to customers within walking distance of the bank and handled the cash book, which recorded the daily transactions of the tellers. Balancing the book was a real challenge for me. My only help was an adding machine. On Friday evenings, when the bank was crammed with customers, I wrote up the pass books (bank books), with a fountain pen, entering the amount of the withdrawals and deposits and calculating the new balance. No adding machine was available for this endeavour.

Because of my teenage experiences, it was with great interest that I visited the old Dominion Bank building during this year’s “Doors Open Toronto” program. Located at One King Street West, the 12-storey skyscraper was erected in 1914, the year the First World War began. Built in the Beaux-Arts style, it was designed by the firm of Darling and Pearson, with the co-operation of the engineering company of Harkness and Oxley. Many of the head office activities of the bank were located within the building.  The Grand Banking Hall, 154 feet long and 68 feet wide, contains Corinthian pilasters (faux columns) and features Travertine marble throughout the space. Its 45-foot ceiling has a gold-leaf coffered design that features the emblems of Canada’s nine provinces. The crest of Newfoundland is missing as it did not join the Confederation until 1949. The original 100-foot tellers’ counter is now  a bar, the longest in the nation. A branch remained on the premises until the year 2000. In 2005, the building was sold for residential use, and was redesigned for this purpose by the architect Stanford Downey. It is presently one of the most prestigious condo-residences in the city.

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The Grand Banking Hall is today a restaurant. Its Corinthian pilasters are evident in this photo.

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Coffered ceiling with the gold-leaf designs that depict the provincial emblems of Canada’s original nine provinces.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view previous posts about movie houses of Toronto—old and new

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its heritage buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It also relates anecdotes and stories from those who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                           cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852

                To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

      Theatres Included in the Book

Chapter One – The Early Years—Nickelodeons and the First Theatres in Toronto

Theatorium (Red Mill) Theatre—Toronto’s First Movie Experience and First Permanent Movie Theatre, Auditorium (Avenue, PIckford), Colonial Theatre (the Bay), thePhotodome, Revue Theatre, Picture Palace (Royal George), Big Nickel (National, Rio), Madison Theatre (Midtown, Capri, Eden, Bloor Cinema, Bloor Street Hot Docs), Theatre Without a Name (Pastime, Prince Edward, Fox)

Chapter Two – The Great Movie Palaces – The End of the Nickelodeons

Loew’s Yonge Street (Elgin/Winter Garden), Shea’s Hippodrome, The Allen (Tivoli), Pantages (Imperial, Imperial Six, Ed Mirvish), Loew’s Uptown

Chapter Three – Smaller Theatres in the pre-1920s and 1920s

 Oakwood, Broadway, Carlton on Parliament Street, Victory on Yonge Street (Embassy, Astor, Showcase, Federal, New Yorker, Panasonic), Allan’s Danforth (Century, Titania, Music Hall), Parkdale, Alhambra (Baronet, Eve), St. Clair, Standard (Strand, Victory, Golden Harvest), Palace, Bedford (Park), Hudson (Mount Pleasant), Belsize (Crest, Regent), Runnymede

Chapter Four – Theatres During the 1930s, the Great Depression

Grant ,Hollywood, Oriole (Cinema, International Cinema), Eglinton, Casino, Radio City, Paramount, Scarboro, Paradise (Eve’s Paradise), State (Bloordale), Colony, Bellevue (Lux, Elektra, Lido), Kingsway, Pylon (Royal, Golden Princess), Metro

Chapter Five – Theatres in the 1940s – The Second World War and the Post-War Years

University, Odeon Fairlawn, Vaughan, Odeon Danforth, Glendale, Odeon Hyland, Nortown, Willow, Downtown, Odeon Carlton, Donlands, Biltmore, Odeon Humber, Town Cinema

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

Cineplex Eaton Centre, Cineplex Odeon Varsity, Scotiabank Cineplex, Dundas Square Cineplex, The Bell Lightbox (TIFF)

 

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2012 in Toronto

 

Automobile-free Sundays in the Kensington Market

During the summer months, on the Sundays when automobiles are banned from the Kensington Market, the district changes from a European-style market into a street carnival. Food stands, buskers, and kiosks appear on roadways usually reserved for cars. People descend on the streets to enjoy the sights, sample the foods, and shop without having to worry about the traffic.

I shop in the market almost every day, and I am familiar with the shops and streets, but on car-free days I view the market through new eyes. Sitting in one of the cafes to enjoy a coffee takes on new dimensions. The food that is offered is endless, with not a hamburger or hotdog in sight, most of the proffered items being either Asian or South American. However, in front of a Portuguese restaurant they grill sardines on a charcoal grill. Musician magically appear, their music enlivening the area. The variety of the music is amazing. As one walks along the avenues, and the notes of one musician die away, the rhythms of another appears, to the delight of youngsters and adults alike. The market presents a kaleidoscope of endless colour and sound.

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                   People on Augusta Avenue enjoying the street scene

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Characters available to have your picture taken with (no request for a fee was in evidence)

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                            Grilling sardines –  Portuguese style

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       Giant sidewalk scrabble board                           Letter writing activity

I have spent much of my adult life researching and photographing Toronto. I love the city and enjoy exploring it through my writing. One of the books, “The Villages Within”, was nominated for the Toronto Heritage Awards. If interested in novels with a Toronto setting, descriptions of the books are available by following the link: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/toronto-author-publishes-seventh-novel/

They can be purchased in soft cover or electronic editions. All books are available at Chapters/Indigo and on Amazon.com. The electronic editions are less that $4 on Kobo and Kindle. Follow the links:

There Never Was a Better Time: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000056586/THERE-NEVER-WAS-A-BETTER-TIME.aspx

Arse Over Teakettle: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000132634/Arse-Over-Teakettle.aspx

The Reluctant Virgin; http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000188306/The-Reluctant-Virgin.aspx

The Villages Within: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000175211/The-Villages-Within.aspx

Author’s Home Page: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

Authors can be contacted at: tayloronhistory@gmail.com

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2012 in Toronto

 

Toronto’s architectural gems–the massive vault in the 1914 Dominion Bank building

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My previous post on the old Dominion Bank building at #1 King Street West featured the architecture and Grand Banking Hall of the building. When it was completed in 1914, the structure was merely one of many tall buildings in the city, but its sophisticated Renaissance Revival design assured its place as one of the great architectural gems of Toronto.

When I visited the structure on the “Doors Open Toronto” weekend, I was able to walk down the impressive marble staircase to the lower level to view the bank’s massive vault. When it was installed (see picture below), it was the largest vault in Canada, and was reputed to have the heaviest door of any bank vault in the country. It weighed over 30 tons. It was equipped with a telephone in case someone was accidentally locked in the vault at night. 

On the “Doors Open Toronto” weekend, visitors were also allowed to view the boardroom and president’s office on the fifteenth floor.

Today, the building is a hotel/condo residence. The vault is employed for wine tastings and the boardroom and adjoining president’s office are used by the condo owners for meetings, parties etc. They are also rented for weddings and private functions. The condo owners are indeed fortunate to have access to such grand facilities. 

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The installation of the bank vault in the Dominion Bank Building in 1914 (photo from City of Toronto Archives)

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        Marble staircase leading down to the vault in the Dominion Bank building

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The 30-ton door of the vault in the lower level of the Dominion Bank building

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                                                The president’s office

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                      The boardroom in the 1914 Dominion Bank building

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                                  Marble fireplace in the boardroom

I have spent much of my adult life researching and photographing Toronto. I love the city and enjoy exploring it through my writing. One of the books, “The Villages Within”, was nominated for the Toronto Heritage Awards. If interested in novels with a Toronto setting, descriptions of the books are available by following the link: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/toronto-author-publishes-seventh-novel/

They can be purchased in soft cover or electronic editions. All books are available at Chapters/Indigo and on Amazon.com. The electronic editions are less that $4 on Kobo and Kindle. Follow the links:

There Never Was a Better Time: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000056586/THERE-NEVER-WAS-A-BETTER-TIME.aspx

Arse Over Teakettle: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000132634/Arse-Over-Teakettle.aspx

The Reluctant Virgin; http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000188306/The-Reluctant-Virgin.aspx

The Villages Within: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000175211/The-Villages-Within.aspx

Author’s Home Page: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

Authors can be contacted at: tayloronhistory@gmail.com

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2012 in Toronto

 

Pecaut Square–the hub of Luminato

This year’s Luminato, held between 8-17 June, contains 50 new art installations, involving 6500 artists from more than 35 countries. In 2005, Tong Gagliano and David Pecaut, two civic leaders, inspired by the cultural diversity and excellence of Toronto’s arts scene, joined forces to create what has become one of the most important arts festivals in North America. It inauguration was on 1 June 2007, aided by funds from the Ontario Government and thirty organizations or individuals. This year’s festival has 50 donors. The three important ideas that Cagliano and Pecaut stressed for the annual arts festival were collaboration, accessibility, and diversity. They envisioned Luminato as a way to engage local and immigrant cultures in the arts scene of the city. 

The hub of this year’s festival is at David Pecaut Square, in the heart of the Entertainment District, where many of the festivities are held. The square’s theme is Windscape, has been designed by the architectural firm of Diamond and Schmitt, located on Adelaide Street. To emphasize their theme, they have created nine 3-metre-long orange windsocks, mounted on poles. Inflated by large fans, capable of pushing 12,000 cubic feet of air a minute through the windsocks, they rotate and swirl, generating a carnival-like atmosphere.

Surrounding the huge stage hosting the events, a enormous band of blue ribbon, 100 metres long and 6 metres high, sweeps across the space, encasing the concert area to create a cozy and intimate atmosphere.

For further information about Pecaut Square and Luminato, see the article by Martin Kelman in the 6 June “Life and Entertainment Section”of the Toronto Star.

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          Giant windsocks, inflated by huge fans, in David Pecaut Square

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The band of blue ribbon being installed in the square in preparation for Luminato

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These two pictures of the square were taken on Thursday, the day before the opening of Luminato

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The blue ribbon fully installed, the stage and space for the audience awaiting a performance. This picture was taken in the morning of the day that Luminato opened. 

I have spent much of my adult life researching and photographing Toronto. I love the city and enjoy exploring it through my writing. One of the books, “The Villages Within”, was nominated for the Toronto Heritage Awards. If interested in novels with a Toronto setting, descriptions of the books are available by following the link: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/toronto-author-publishes-seventh-novel/

They can be purchased in soft cover or electronic editions. All books are available at Chapters/Indigo and on Amazon.com. The electronic editions are less that $4 on Kobo and Kindle. Follow the links:

There Never Was a Better Time: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000056586/THERE-NEVER-WAS-A-BETTER-TIME.aspx

Arse Over Teakettle: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000132634/Arse-Over-Teakettle.aspx

The Reluctant Virgin; http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000188306/The-Reluctant-Virgin.aspx

The Villages Within: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000175211/The-Villages-Within.aspx

Author’s Home Page: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

Authors can be contacted at: tayloronhistory@gmail.com

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2012 in Toronto

 

Hotel Victoria on Yonge Street, Toronto

During the “Doors Open Toronto” weekend, I had an opportunity to visit the interior of the Hotel Victoria, located at 56 Yonge Street. As a teenager, I rode past it many times on the old square-shaped Peter Witt streetcars that plied Yonge Street prior to the opening of the subway in 1954. In recent years, I have walked past the hotel’s attractive facade, but had never been inside its doors. The staff that greeted visitors on the “Doors Open” weekend were friendly, knowledgeable and very helpful. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit.

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The hotel was built by Frederick Mossop, who began his career as an hotel clerk. He purchased the property on Yonge Street in 1906. The site possessed a narrow frontage on the street, only 40 feet wide, but with a depth of 112 feet. Mossop hired the architect J. P. Hynes to design a fireproof building, as the disastrous fire of 1904, which destroyed much of Toronto’s financial District, remained fresh in his memory. It required three years to complete the building. Naming the hotel after himself, the eight-storey hotel opened in 1909, containing 48 rooms, completed at a cost of $250,000.

The hotel was constructed on a foundation that extended down to the bedrock, the first foundation of this type built in Toronto. The steel frame of the structure, as well as the elevators, were protected with non-flammable materials. The interior staircases were of iron, with slate steps. All of the windows possessed metal sashes with thick fireproof glass.

The facade of the building, despite being only 40 feet in length, appears wider than it actually is. The unadorned style, with straight lines and small windows help create this illusion. The red-bricks are attractive, the cut stone trim around the windows adding a touch of elegance.  

During the years ahead after it opened in 1909, the hotel prospered. It played a major role in the life of the city when it served as an emergency hospital during the flu pandemic of 1918. However, business dwindled as the years progressed, and it 1927 the hotel closed. It was sold to George and Mathew Elliott. The two brothers renovated the hotel and reopened it as the Hotel Victoria.

During the Second World War, the hotel established the Churchill Club to raise funds for the war effort. During the years following the war, the hotel again began to lose business. In the 1950s and 1960s, profits from the establishment waned to the extent that the hotel became the haunt of cigar-smoking prospectors, Bay Street stockbrokers down on their luck, and a few “ladies of the evening.” Paul Phelan, a real estate developer, rescued the hotel from its fate in 1971. Paying $10,000 for the premises, he assumed all its debts. He then spent over $2 million to renovate the old hotel, and reopened it as a boutique establishment, the type that were becoming popular in New York and London. As a result, during the 1970s and 1980s, the hotel once more became profitable.

In 1984, Phelan sold the hotel to Charles Goldsmith, another real estate developer, for the sum of $2.5 million. Goldsmith invested another $2.5 into the hotel to upgrade it to conform to the new provincial fire regulations and required mechanical systems. He restored the hotel’s original marble walls and pillars, as well as the plaster cornices on the ceilings. The hotel reopened in March of 1986. In 1997, the ownership of the hotel again changed hands. It was purchased by the Silver Hotel Group. In 2011 they renovated the lobby and the guestrooms.

Today, the hotel offers a unique and intimate place to stay, with attractive rooms and a location near the cultural amenities and tourist attractions of the city. Its pleasing facade remains an enduring reminder of Toronto’s past, accommodating clientele in a modern setting.

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                           Hotel lobby                                             Hotel hallway

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                                          A hotel guestroom

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view previous posts about movie houses of Toronto—old and new

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its heritage buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It also relates anecdotes and stories from those who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                           cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[1]

                To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

      Theatres Included in the Book

Chapter One – The Early Years—Nickelodeons and the First Theatres in Toronto

Theatorium (Red Mill) Theatre—Toronto’s First Movie Experience and First Permanent Movie Theatre, Auditorium (Avenue, PIckford), Colonial Theatre (the Bay), thePhotodome, Revue Theatre, Picture Palace (Royal George), Big Nickel (National, Rio), Madison Theatre (Midtown, Capri, Eden, Bloor Cinema, Bloor Street Hot Docs), Theatre Without a Name (Pastime, Prince Edward, Fox)

Chapter Two – The Great Movie Palaces – The End of the Nickelodeons

Loew’s Yonge Street (Elgin/Winter Garden), Shea’s Hippodrome, The Allen (Tivoli), Pantages (Imperial, Imperial Six, Ed Mirvish), Loew’s Uptown

Chapter Three – Smaller Theatres in the pre-1920s and 1920s

 Oakwood, Broadway, Carlton on Parliament Street, Victory on Yonge Street (Embassy, Astor, Showcase, Federal, New Yorker, Panasonic), Allan’s Danforth (Century, Titania, Music Hall), Parkdale, Alhambra (Baronet, Eve), St. Clair, Standard (Strand, Victory, Golden Harvest), Palace, Bedford (Park), Hudson (Mount Pleasant), Belsize (Crest, Regent), Runnymede

Chapter Four – Theatres During the 1930s, the Great Depression

Grant ,Hollywood, Oriole (Cinema, International Cinema), Eglinton, Casino, Radio City, Paramount, Scarboro, Paradise (Eve’s Paradise), State (Bloordale), Colony, Bellevue (Lux, Elektra, Lido), Kingsway, Pylon (Royal, Golden Princess), Metro

Chapter Five – Theatres in the 1940s – The Second World War and the Post-War Years

University, Odeon Fairlawn, Vaughan, Odeon Danforth, Glendale, Odeon Hyland, Nortown, Willow, Downtown, Odeon Carlton, Donlands, Biltmore, Odeon Humber, Town Cinema

Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres

Savoy (Coronet), Westwood

Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes

Cineplex Eaton Centre, Cineplex Odeon Varsity, Scotiabank Cineplex, Dundas Square Cineplex, The Bell Lightbox (TIFF)

 

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Photos from a 1953 Coronation collection

The photos on this post are from a collection that I compiled during Coronation year, although I included one from the 1951 Royal Tour. They have been in a cardboard box at the bottom of a cupboard for almost 60 years. Some of them are from the Toronto Star, as well as from other newspapers and government sources. I have not looked at them for many years, but this year’s Diamond Jubilee prompted me to open the box and look at them once more. For those who remember the event, I hope they may evoke a few fond memories.

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               Covers of British magazines from Coronation Year.

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                     Cover from the Telegram Newspaper

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         Photo distributed by the Government of Ontario

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Photo provided as an insert into all June 2nd copies of the Toronto Star

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The front of the envelope that contained the photo inserts for the Star. The instructions are for the newspaper boys.

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This cover of Life magazine is from 1951 Royal Tour of Canada that included a visit to Washington D.C.

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Covers of the Star Weekly, a magazine-style insert that arrived with the Star on Saturdays for the price of an extra 10 cents.

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               Star Weekly covers of the Queen and Princess Margaret

I have spent much of my adult life researching and photographing Toronto. I love the city and enjoy exploring it through my writing. One of the books, “The Villages Within”, was nominated for the Toronto Heritage Awards. The murder/mystery “The Reluctant Virgin” includes Coronation events in the city as the story takes place in Toronto during the 1950s.  If interested in novels with a Toronto setting, descriptions of the books are available by following the link: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/toronto-author-publishes-seventh-novel/

They can be purchased in soft cover or electronic editions. All books are available at Chapters/Indigo and on Amazon.com. The electronic editions are less that $4 on Kobo and Kindle. Follow the links:

There Never Was a Better Time: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000056586/THERE-NEVER-WAS-A-BETTER-TIME.aspx

Arse Over Teakettle: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000132634/Arse-Over-Teakettle.aspx

The Reluctant Virgin; http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000188306/The-Reluctant-Virgin.aspx

The Villages Within: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000175211/The-Villages-Within.aspx

Author’s Home Page: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

Authors can be contacted at: tayloronhistory@gmail.com

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 3, 2012 in Toronto

 

Celebrating the Coronation in Toronto in 1953

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Today, it is almost impossible to imagine the coronation fever that gripped Toronto in June of 1953. Many people remember the hysteria that swept the city when Paul Henderson scored the winning goal in the Summit Series in the Soviet Union in 1972. Canada exploded with emotion. It became one of the most memorable moments in their lives, even though there had been only sixty minutes of playing time, and the build-up to the event relatively brief. Many experienced this exhilaration again in February of 2010, when Sidney Crosby slammed in the overtime goal in the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

In fairness, today, it is difficult to compare the events. In 1972, when Henderson scored the winning goal, most Canadians owned TV sets. People huddled around them in their homes, and those at work watched the game in offices and factories. Children gathered in school auditoriums.

In 1953, few people owned a TV set. For weeks, the shops and major department stores of downtown Toronto had been frantically decorating their facades, doorways, and windows. Eaton’s and Simpson’s were festooned with flags, ribbons, and banners of red, white, and blue. The most popular designs were crowns, orbs, shields, and swords of state. The city’s inner core resembled a royal court. On Sunday, 31 May, normally a quiet day, thousands travelled downtown to gaze at the decorations. A reporter wrote that Yonge Street was “hell on wheels”, as over 10,000 pedestrians and endless lines of automobiles jammed Yonge Street from Richmond to College streets. On the day prior to the big events, the business district remained crowded with gawkers. The TTC reported that the Monday evening rush hour traffic was worse than during a major snowstorm. Pandemonium ruled rather than Britannia.

On 2 June, coronation day, as first light broke across Toronto, many had been awake since the early morning hours, having risen at five o’clock to hear the live broadcast of the ceremony on the BBC from London. As the sun crept ever higher in the sky, not a cloud marred the endless expanse of blue.

Because the first films of the coronation would not arrive until late afternoon, many people travelled downtown to attend public functions. As the morning progressed, below the heights of the city hall tower, a steady stream of people passed by, most having arrived downtown on the Yonge streetcars. The crowds surged toward University Avenue to reserve a position to watch the one-hour-long garrison parade, which would begin at eleven o’clock.

Not everyone gathered at University Avenue. By the hour of eleven, people lined the streets of the downtown, within a half-mile radius of Yonge and Queen streets. Floating above the crowds were red, white, and blue balloons, their strings held tightly in the hands of young children. In the jostling, a few balloons escaped, the cries of disappointed youngsters unheard amid the din of the excited throngs. Many adults wore paper replicas of St. Edward’s Crown, while others settled for less patriotic but more practical sun hats. It was rare to find an adult or child not clutching a flag. No painter could ever have created such a scene, or any camera capture a more animated spectacle.

By noon, the temperature had reached seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit, the sky spotlessly blue. Crowds were immense at the ferry docks, waiting to journey to the Toronto Islands. Private sailboats in the harbour were decorated with flags, pennants, and signals, from bow to stern and hull to mast. All the YCYC yachts had been encouraged by the club to participate in the display. Even the Toronto ferries were trimmed in red, white, and blue. The harbour was a sea of patriotic colours.

My friends and I journeyed to Coronation Park to participate in the Township of York’s main celebration. A new park had been built, especially for the event. It was located on Eglinton Avenue, to the west of the township offices near Trethewey Avenue. Instead of bicycling over, we journeyed on the TTC, as all buses and streetcars were free for the entire day. When we arrived, several thousand people had already gathered. Officials had advertised that a whole ox was to be roasted. We wandered over to the large fire pit that they had dug, and gazed at the meat rotating on a sixteen-foot iron spit. Actually, it was not an ox, but a number of huge roasts of beef, but we did not care. Our mouths watered as we watched it sizzle in the heat of the flames and we inhaled the aroma of the cooking meat. The officials told us that servings would begin at one o’clock.

I considered the celebration as good as a day at the CNE. They gave away free ice cream bars, and at another set of kiosks, distributed free flags. As I enjoyed my vanilla bar under the hot sun, a bi-plane flew overhead and scattered a cloud of red, white, and blue cards. Cards with a royal insignia on them could be redeemed for a 1953 silver dollar.

The sun’s burning rays reflected from the back of my neck as I listened to the song “Three Cheers for the Red, White, and Blue.” The crowds stood to their feet as the band played the unofficial Canadian national anthem—“The Maple Leaf Forever.”

Shortly after three o’clock, my friends and I departed from Coronation Park and journeyed to our house to watch the coronation ceremony on our family’s new TV set.

As the evening hours of coronation day progressed, crowds flocked to the theatres of the city—Shea’s Hippodrome, the University, the Eglinton, and the Tivoli, to view the highlights of the event. As theatre patrons entered the lobbies of the film houses, newsboys were still hawking the late edition of the Toronto Star. On the front page, the huge letters of the headline proclaimed, “HAIL ER II.” The crowds at the University Theatre were thrilled as they watched the majestic scenes within the great abbey. It resembled a living moving canvas, painted by the masters of old Europe, rich in detail and brilliant with colour.

As darkness deepened across the far-flung avenues of Toronto, families with young children commenced the preparations that time eternal dictated be performed at day’s end. Curtains were closed against the night, as porch lights glowed in the enfolding darkness. Children, tired after an exhausting day’s revelling, were sad that the long-awaited day had ended, but their parents were glad of the opportunity to don their slippers and put out the feline pets. For them, the curtain on the spectacle of spectacles was slowly drawing to a close

Not all was still throughout the great metropolis. Beacon fires that had been lit at dusk in six Toronto public parks, glowed ever brighter, their flames rising in the blackened sky as people added fuel to the crackling flames. The odour of smoke infused the night air. At one of the community celebrations, well after the hour of ten, fifteen thousand people still milled around the celebratory bonfires. Some were sipping on secretly held bottles of firewater, but no reports of unruliness were reported.

At the Sunnyside Beach beside the lake, the largest fireworks displays of the decade illuminated the firmament, their reflected light sparkling on the inky surface of the water. People across the lake in Lewistown, New York, saw the flashes of the exploding rockets above the city.

It had been the fourth coronation of the century, following those of King Edward VII, George V, and King George VI, but the only one that had been witnessed by the people of the world through the magic of television and film.

The above passage is from the murder/mystery “The Reluctant Virgin.” The novel also contains detailed descriptions of the coronation broadcast on CBLT, the Canadian TV station.

I have spent much of my adult life researching and photographing Toronto. I love the city and enjoy exploring it through my writing. One of the books, “The Villages Within”, was short-listed for the Toronto Heritage Awards. If interested in novels with a Toronto setting, descriptions of the books are available by following the link: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/toronto-author-publishes-seventh-novel/

They can be purchased in soft cover or electronic editions. All books are available at Chapters/Indigo and on Amazon.com. The electronic editions are less that $4 on Kobo and Kindle. Follow the links:

There Never Was a Better Time: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000056586/THERE-NEVER-WAS-A-BETTER-TIME.aspx

Arse Over Teakettle: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000132634/Arse-Over-Teakettle.aspx

The Reluctant Virgin; http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000188306/The-Reluctant-Virgin.aspx

The Villages Within: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000175211/The-Villages-Within.aspx

Author’s Home Page: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

Authors can be contacted at: tayloronhistory@gmail.com

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2012 in Toronto

 

Historic homes on Draper Street

Many attractive homes are located on Draper Street, which was named after William Henry Draper (1801-1877), a jurist and politician, as well as the Chief Justice of Upper Canada from 1863 to 1869. His portrait in oils hangs outside the library of Osgoode Hall. The land occupied by Draper Street, once a part of the military reserve attached to Fort York, was annexed to the city in the 1830s. It appears on the city’s maps in the year 1857, though the exact year it was cut through the woods is unknown. In the 1880s, when houses were constructed, it became a working man’s community, unlike Wellington Place at its north end.

22-24 Draper

The Bay and Gable three-story house at 22 Draper Street is particularly worth examining. It occupies the left-hand side of the two semi-detached homes seen in the photo on the left. The house is one of the seven dwellings constructed in 1890 on the site of Benton’s Lumber Yard, and is an excellent example of Toronto’s unique “Bay and Gable” houses. Number 22 Draper Street was the home and workplace of Miss Annie Riorden, a dressmaker. In this decade, the selection of ready-made dresses available at the dry goods stores was quite limited. Most women purchased material from a bolt of cloth and made their own dresses, as well as those for other members of their families. Ladies who could afford the price employed dressmakers. They chose the material and style, had a fitting, and then had the cutting and sewing done by the dressmaker. Miss Riorden chose an excellent location for her business. The matrons of the mansions on Wellington Place were frequent customers, and the proximity of her home to these residences was a great advantage.

This three-storey narrow house has large bay windows on the first floor that continue to the second-floor level. High in the pediment, the wood trim has simple designs. The original porch-supports remain today, and at the top contain sunburst patterns in the corners, with a row of spindle ornaments produced on a lathe in a lumberyard. The slate roof has not survived.

There is a transom window above the door, as well as a large window in the door itself, allowing copious daylight to enter the hallway within. It was an era before electricity, and without such designs the interior of the house would be very dim, especially during the winter months.

The tall windows were an asset for Miss Riorden as she performed the detailed tasks required to complete the cutting and sewing of a dress. With a little imagination we can picture her seated beside a large bay window on the second floor, sewing in the morning light. On winter days, perhaps she also had a small work area at the rear of the home to take advantage of the afternoon sun.

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        22 Draper Street on a sunny morning in June

Another home that is particularly interesting is 17 Draper St. In 1881, it was purchased from the builder by J. J. Dyas, an advertising agent, who in that year was 23 years old. When the house was restored in the twentieth century, coloured glass from a church, which had been demolished, was placed in the windows of the door. The clear glass in the transom window (above the door) is original, with more church glass placed behind it. When viewed from the narrow hallway inside, the coloured glass is very attractive. At the top of the windows in the door are wooden, half-sunburst patterns. The wood trim on the second floor gables is not original, but is a faithful copy. The front doors were purchased at an auction, and are authentic to the era when the dwelling was constructed.

Above the first floor gable, on the edge of the roof, is the original decorative wrought-iron trim, and the same material was employed for the attractive fence surrounding the front of the house. However, the fence was purchased in Dashwood, Ontario (London- Stratford area). Cast in the 1880s, it came from a grave in a churchyard. It is worth examining the unusual latch on the gate.

The door opens to a hallway where there are ornate decorations in the wood trim. The parlour is to the left of the hallway. The floors are pine, but in the hallway the original flooring has been replaced with old oak. At the rear is a large kitchen, which possesses a rolled tin ceiling. The ceiling was not in the house when it was constructed, but is typical of ceiling coverings that were in homes and shops in this era.

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17 Draper St, with its Mansard roof and attractive brickwork

DSCN1446

Wrought-iron fence around 17 Draper St. that was purchased in Dashwood Ontario.

DSCN1444

Transom window above door of 17 Draper Street.

I have spent much of my adult life researching and photographing Toronto. I love the city and enjoy exploring it through my writing. One of the books, “The Villages Within”, was nominated for the Toronto Heritage Awards. If interested in novels with a Toronto setting, descriptions of the books are available by following the link: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/toronto-author-publishes-seventh-novel/

They can be purchased in soft cover or electronic editions. All books are available at Chapters/Indigo and on Amazon.com. The electronic editions are less that $4 on Kobo and Kindle. Follow the links:

There Never Was a Better Time: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000056586/THERE-NEVER-WAS-A-BETTER-TIME.aspx

Arse Over Teakettle: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000132634/Arse-Over-Teakettle.aspx

The Reluctant Virgin; http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000188306/The-Reluctant-Virgin.aspx

The Villages Within: http://bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000175211/The-Villages-Within.aspx

Author’s Home Page: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

Authors can be contacted at: tayloronhistory@gmail.com

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2012 in Toronto